Elinor Benjamin, Storyteller

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The kind of Stories I like to tell

Here is a small sampling of stories I like to tell to audiences from 8 to 80. Sources are included where available. See also Favourites for Younger Children.

Black and White Cattle
Boy who drew cats
Corpse Watchers
Cengidilaver
The Golden Phoenix
Hoichi
Magic Orange Tree
Mr.Fox
Penelope, the Fairy Wife
Prince Crab
Princess of Tomboso
Ruby Prince
Sister Alyonushka and brother Ivanushka
Twelve Black Cats

Black and White Cattle
A cattle herder discovers that beautiful women have been coming down from the sky and stealing his milk. He marries one of them but ignores her warning not to look in the basket she has brought with her from the sky. Laura Simms, Moon on Fire: Calling Forth the Power of the Feminine - audiocassette Yellow Moon Press, ISBN: 0-938756-15-X
Boy who drew cats - Japan
A small, weak, but clever, boy is apprenticed to the priest at the local temple but his penchant for drawing where he shouldn't gets him expelled. Later, he uses his talent to save another temple from a horrible goblin. Originally collected in Japan by Lafcadio Hearn, this story can be found in many collections.
Cengidilaver- Turkey
In this lively and complex tale, a wicked woman tricks the sultan into believing his lovely wife has given birth to two puppies, then sets the real babies adrift in a basket on the river. Aided by kind people, they survive and return to the city not knowing their parentage. Through a series of magical events involving a terrible monster named Cengidilaver, they are restored to their parents. The Art of the Turkish Tale, vol 1 Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, c1990.
Corpse Watchers - Irish
The youngest of three impoverished daughters is helped in her quest to seek her fortune by her kindness to an old woman who sends her to a house where she must watch over the corpse of a handsome young man in exchange for silver and gold. Tales from an Irish Hearth by Alice Kane now available on Tales of Wonder, 2010 recording from SC-CC's StorySave .  From Patrick Kennedy in Irish Folktales edited by Henry Glassie.  New York: Pantheon, c1985. Available on-line at the Sacred text Archive
Golden Phoenix - Quebec
Prince Ti-Jean sets out to learn who is stealing his father's magic apples, the "silver apples of wisdom", and wins the Turkish Sultan's daughter after overcoming many tests of courage. The Golden Phoenix and other French - Canadian fairy talesby Marius Barbeau translated by Michael Hornansky. Toronto: Oxford Univ. Press, 1970, c1958.
Hoichi
Blind young Hoichi's skill as a singer and teller of legendary stories about the vanquished Heiki clan of feudal Japan, attracts the attention of a wise old priest who offers him a place to live at the temple. Hoitchi's art also attracts a stranger audience and places him in danger.  There are many sources including a good one adapted for telling to all ages in Apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folk Tales About Stories and Storytellers  by Naomi Baltuck. The original version collected by Lafcadio Hearn is on the web at: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/kwaidanB.htm
Magic Orange Tree - Haiti
A little girl is punished by her step-mother for eating three oranges, but one of the seeds grows into a magic orange tree. With the help of a magic song, the little girl uses the tree to get rid of the evil step-mother. Young listeners will often join in to sing along with the magic song. The magic orange tree : and other Haitian folktales by Dianne Wolkstein.  New York: Knopf, c1978. In 2010, Diane issued her a CD of tales from this book. Visit http://dianewolkstein.com for more information. Hurrah!
Mr. Fox
Young Lady Mary doesn't know much about her betrothed, but when she accidently comes upon his mansion in the woods, she learns more than she wants to know. Sometimes known as the "English Bluebeard", the horror of this gothic tale is tempered by memorable and subtly humourous language. English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. London: Bodley Head, 1968
Penelope, the fairy wife - Wales
A young man from Beddgellert steals a girl away from the fairies. First she agrees to be his housekeeper if he can guess her name;  then she agrees to marry him if he will never strike her with iron. My version is from Celtic fairy tales by John Rhys. Oxford, Oxford University Press, [1901] The legend of the place name Beddgellert is in Joseph Jacobs Celtic Fairy tales "The Sacred Text Archive". London: Bodley Head, 1970.
Prince Crab - Italy
A king buys a marvellous crab at the request of his daughter, the Princess. Of course, it is no ordinary crab, but an enchanted prince. What art can the Princess use to rescue him? I first found in this in Laura Cecil's A thousand yards of Sea. Toronto: Reed Books Canada, 1995 and also in Italo Calvino's Fiabe Italiani
Princess of Tomboso - Quebec
Ti-Jean and his brothers inherit three magical objects but Ti-Jean loses all of them to the beautiful, but tricky Princess of Tomboso. Later, he uses his wits to get them back and leaves the Princess with something to remember him by. The golden phoenix and other French-Canadian fairy tales by Marius Barbeau retold by Michael Hornyanski. Toronto: Oxford Univ. Press, 1970, c1958. Canadian Folk Tales  by Eva Martin and Laszlo Gal. Vancouver: Groundwood, c1984.
The Ruby Prince - Punjab
The king's ruby is mysteriously transformed into a young man. He will tell no one anything of hs origins. The king, in anger, banishes him, but when the prince kills the ogre that has been plaguing the kingdom, the king rewards him with the hand of his daughter, the Princess. The Princess asks her husband where him comes from one time too many, and he vanishes. She undertakes a great task. The story was collected by Flora Annie Steel in her collection, Tales of the Punjab, available online at: The Baldwin Project
Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanuska - Russia
Two orphaned children set off to seek their fortune, but the brother is turned into a little goat by magic. Sister Alyonuska marries a wealthy merchant, but a wicked witch kills her, and takes her place as the merchant's wife. Can this end happily? http://russian-crafts.com/tales/alionushka.html
Twelve Black Cats - Scottish

Twelve black cats terrorize a fisherman who defies the community's caution not to go fishing on All-Hallows Eve. Twelve Black Cats and other eerie Scottish tales by Sorche Nic Leodhas. Bodley Head 1975